Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe suffered a horrific crash, injuring his upper left thigh, during practice for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday afternoon.

Fifty minutes into Monday’s practice session, Hinchcliffe’s striking gold Arrow/Lucas Oil sponsored Honda entry hit the wall at the Turn 3 Safer barrier and slid on its right side all the way into Turn 4.

A Honda spokesman confirmed that his right suspension failed as the Canadian’s car was entering the turn and lost steering.

Hinchcliffe was awake when the Holmatro Safety Team arrived on the scene and was transported to IU Health Medical Hospital. The inaugural Grand Prix of Louisiana winner underwent surgery to his upper left thigh, and was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit where he remains in a stable condition, according to IndyCar medical director Dr. Michael Olinger. Updates on his condition will come when available.

He had just completed a lap of 223.916 mph and was completing his 23rd lap of the session when the incident occurred. After more than half an hour of track repairs and investigation into the cause of the crash, IndyCar officials called the checkered flag for the session.

On Sunday, Hinchcliffe had qualified on the outside of Row 8 with a four-lap average speed of 223.519 mph.

“Obviously we’re relieved that James is awake and out of surgery,” Schmidt Peterson Motorsports co-owner Sam Schmidt said. “That’s the most important thing on our minds right now and we will do absolutely everything required to ensure a complete recovery.

Many of Hinchcliffe’s fellow drivers wished him a speedy recovery via social media or through the press.

“Every time we hop in that race car, we don’t know if we’re going to come out of it, if you’re going to come out of it in one piece, if something’s going to happen to you,” said Chip Ganassi’s Tony Kanaan, who will make his 300th IndyCar start this weekend.

“That’s what makes us different than other people. That’s why not everybody can do this. It’s never easy to see a friend of yours hurt or lost a friend of yours. But this is the sport that we chose.”

What will be pressing on the minds of the entire field and many fans is that this is the fifth serious crash at the Brickyard in the ‘Month of May’ build-up. Last week in practice, Hélio Castroneves (Team Penske), Pippa Mann (Dale Coyne Racing) and Josef Newgarden (CFH Racing) were involved in crashes, with both Castroneves and Newgarden flipping their cars.

On Sunday before qualifying, Ed Carpenter (CFH Racing) made contact with the Turn 2 barrier and also ended upside-down. The drivers in those incidents were uninjured.

The incident, along with others, prompted IndyCar to reduce the engine boost level and stipulate that teams run their race aerodynamic configurations during qualifying.

With all these horrific crashes, should IndyCar have a rethink and return aero kits back to their 2012-14 DW12 design for safety reasons and remove those radical aerodynamic components and push engine power instead like drivers and the IndyCar paddock were hoping for?

Image via USA Today

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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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